Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stopping For The One

"Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world; they cripple our faith. Like Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live – we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love." - Jen Hatmaker

Easter is almost here.  Every year it comes, and every year I somehow forget all the emotion that springs up in me as a result.  I am reminded of my weakness and my brokenness.  And I become more convinced of the newness of life I am meant to have.  I think of that dark Friday centuries and centuries ago where the sky was dark, the earth shook, the veil was torn and Love died.  For me.  For you.  But Love didn't die and leave us alone.  Love died so that we might never be alone.  So that we might know in the deepest parts of ourselves that we are the beloved.  We are meant to live for so much more.

Love has brought life and transformation into my own life.  Love has taken what was broken and pieced it back together.  Love has breathed life into what was dead and lifeless.  Love has restored and redeemed me.  It has taken what was gray and brought color.  Love hasn't solved all my problems.  Love has entered into my problems with me.  Love compels me. And it's this same Love that is doing something new in 150 little lives in the middle of Ethiopia. 

It was two years ago that I met a man named Yemamu in Ethiopia.  Love united our hearts and I knew as my airplane left Ethiopian soil that Love had connected us for a bigger purpose.  And now, two years later, it is with great joy that I get to tell you about an opportunity we have together to see Love and restoration enter one of the most hopeless communities on the face of the planet.

Yemamu's NGO "Hands for the Needy Ethiopia" has now officially partnered with Children's HopeChest to help bring 150 precious kiddos food, clean water, medical care and hope.  These kids are the most vulnerable children in the community of Korah.  They have been eating garbage from the city dump and wearing clothes they found there.  Many of them have lost parents to disease.  Some of them have been begging in the city.  All of them - ALL OF THEM - are important.  They are the ones, just like us, that Love came for. 

Before I go any further, I want to stop for a minute.  I was reminded this morning of the story of blind Bartimaeus in scripture.  In Mark chapter 10, one week before Jesus dies on the cross, he is walking with a crowd through Jericho.  He hears a voice shouting out to Him "Jesus, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped.  He didn't stop to tell him to be quiet.  He stopped so He could call Bartimaeus over to Him.  Everyone around Bartimaeus is telling him to shut up and not to make such a scene, but he keeps shouting.  Jesus asks him what he wants and Bartimaeus simply says "I want to see." He wants the most basic and important of his needs taken care of.  And Jesus says "Go.  Your faith has healed you." And Bartimaeus received his vision back and his life was changed. 

Here is Jesus knowing He has the cross to face soon, with much on His mind, I'm sure, stopping for the one that no one else would have stopped for.  He stopped for the one that wasn't seen or noticed by others.  He stopped for the one that everyone was telling to shut up.  What was on his mind, the things he had to do...none of that stopped Him.  We catch a beautiful glimpse into the heart of God here.  Talk about newness and transformation.  Talk about new life.  Imagine how Bartimaeus' life changed.  All because Jesus heard him call out and loved him enough to stop and restore his life.

And, honestly, that's what God has been asking of me.  He is asking me to stop for these 150 little ones on the other side of the world who have no one listening to their cries.  He is asking me to see the potential they have for transformation.  He is asking me to see how much He loves them.  He is asking me to love them the way that He does.  Wholly.  Unselfishly.  Without expecting anything in return.  God is asking me to slow down and take notice.  And so I find myself responsible for helping make sure these 150 little ones are seen and sponsored by people like you. 

The crazy thing is that we as Westerners simply don't understand what an impact stopping for one will make in their lives.  We don't know how $34 a month literally helps take Biruk or Tsegenesh or Melkam from death to life.  We can't imagine how a relationship with a child on the other side of the world will transform our own hearts.  We don't know the dignity that these kids receive from an education, a new pair of shoes or access to food.  Because we already have it.  And so much more.  We have never had to even think about our dignity.  It's been handed to us on a silver platter simply because of our geographic location. 

Guys, I don't have adequate words to tell you how beautiful these 150 children are.  I don't have language to describe how my heart feels for all of them.  I wish you all could meet them.  I wish you could see their smiles that radiate despite their circumstances.

I am one person.  Just one.  As much as I wish I could sponsor all 150 kids, I can't.  And frankly, I wouldn't want to rob you of the joy that comes when you enter into a relationship with one of these kiddos. 

So, this Easter I am just asking you to stop for one.  Just like Jesus did.  Will you hear them calling out to have their basic needs met? In the midst of the Easter baskets and meals to prepare and clothes to get ready, will you consider stopping for the ones Jesus cares so much about? 

I was thinking yesterday about the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we could live in abundant life.  And I was wondering if my life is being lived in appropriate response to the gift of Love and Life that He gave.  Jesus' love was radical.  It stopped at nothing for us.  I just want to love with all that I am.  God doesn't need our $34 a month. He just doesn't want us to miss out on what giving our love away looks like.  It was in giving His love away that God turned this world upside down.  I want in on the upside down Kingdom of God.  I want to engage in a story that is bigger than myself. 

I'm at a loss for words, friends.  There is nothing that I can do on my own to see that these 150 children find sponsors.  It is completely in God's hands to provide.  But I must be faithful to share the need with you.  I won't guilt you into sponsoring a child.  I just simply ask that you ask God about it. 

You can go HERE to see all the precious faces that represent lives and stories and laughter and love.  In a matter of five minutes, you can take care of sponsorship online.  You know where to find me if you have any questions.  :)  Oh, and while you're there...check out Mekdes Fanta, a sweet little 5 year old girl who is the newest member of my Ethiopian family. When I was in Korah in September we found her wandering the streets and brought her into the center for a meal.  We found out that her mother has to leave her alone every day so she can go find daily work to try to feed her. Now, she is sponsored.  She is my "One". Pure joy.

Thank you for reading, for listening, for stopping for the one...

"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." - John 13:34